What you need to know:
- Literally the who’s who of Kenyan and indeed world athletics visit the murder scene, express shock at promising career cut short when the world was right at her feet
- Misfortune Elite athletes struggle to come to terms with brutal death of rising Kenyan star who was going places
Agnes Jebet Tirop was planning to reclaim her world record in the 10-kilometre road race after it was lowered by 23 seconds by Bahrain’s Kalkidan Gezahegne just last week in Switzerland.
Ethiopia-born Kalkidan ran a brilliant 29 minutes and 38 seconds, lowering Tirop’s time of 30:01 which she had set just days earlier in Germany.
This prompted Tirop to plan for another record “soon,” according to her Italian manager Gianni Demadonna.
Speaking to Nation Sport on telephone on Wednesday, Demadonna expressed “deeply shock and sadness” following news of the tragic death of “an amazing athlete.”
“We are speechless and deeply shocked following the sudden death of such an amazing athlete who had a bright future,” Demadonna, a former Italian national distance running star, said.
“She was such an amazing athlete and a beautiful person and it is a terrible time for us.
“She was very happy about her world record time last month and she was ready to lower the record again after it was broken last week by the Bahraini athlete,” said Gianni.
Tirop’s body was found lifeless with stab wounds on her neck at her home in Iten, Elgeyo Marakwet County, some few metres from Demadonna’s camp where she had been residing. Athletes who assembled at Tirop’s home after hearing the news of her death were visibly in shock, saying the athletics fraternity had lost one of the hard-working athletes whom they described as “focused.”
Three-time London Marathon champion Mary Keitany was inconsolable, saying her friend and training mate died at young age.
Keitany said that Tirop was a good athlete who loved training “and would always ask for guidance before competing in various races. It’s sad we have lost an athlete who had bright future. We used to go for long runs together and we were in the same church."
“I remember we spoke before she went to compete where she broke the world record in 10km and we were happy for that, but today we are left mourning,” said Keitany.
Fresh London Marathon champion Joyciline Jepkosgei was also shocked by the turn of events, terming Tirop as “one of the most hard-working athletes.”
“We are just shocked by what happened. Tirop was a hard working athlete and I have known her as a focused athlete who wanted just the best. We are praying for the family because they have lost their daughter,” said Jepkosgei.
Athletics Kenya’s Athlete’s Representative Milcah Chemos said it was sad for a young, upcoming athlete to die in such a brutal manner and have her dreams cut short.
“I have interacted with Tirop on various occasions and she is such a humble girl who wanted to improve on her career. We even talked last week over the phone and we were to meet for a cup of coffee, but that was never to be. It’s so sad,” said Chemos, a former world steeplechase champion.
Former 800m champions Eunice Sum and Janeth Jepkosgei, former world record holder in marathon Dennis Kimetto, 3,000m steeplechase world champion Conseslus Kipruto, former 800m world champion Alfred Kirwa, among others who travelled all the way from Kapsabet in Nandi County, were at the scene, joining Iten based athletes, including Keitany and Jepkosgei at the fallen star’s home.
Keiyo North police commander Tom Makori, while confirming the death, said the family of the two had on several occasions disagreed on the matters which only came to their (police) attention after Tirop’s tragic death on Wednesday.
Tirop started competitive running while at Kosirai High School in, Uasin Gishu County, where she competed in various schools championships.
Her career took shape when she featured at the Africa Cross Country Championships in Cape Town, South Africa, where she won a silver medal in the junior category in 2012.
She went on to bag bronze medal in the 5,000m during the World Junior Championships in Barcelona, Spain, the same year.
In 2013, Tirop was among the Kenyan team that participated in the World Cross Country Championships in Bydgoszcz, Poland, where she again bagged silver medal in the junior category with her team winning the title.
In 2014, she represented the country in the Africa Cross Country Championships in Kampala where she won gold, before winning bronze medal during the World Junior Championships in Eugene, USA.
Tirop’s decorative CV also includes a World Cross Country Championships title she won in 2015 in Guiyang, China, becoming the second youngest medalist at that level.
She again represented Kenya in the 2017 World Cross Country Championships in Kampala where she emerged fourth in a race won by Irene Cheptai with Alice Aprot and Lilian Rengeruk coming in second and third positions respectively.
She then bagged bronze medal in 10,000m that year during the World Championships in London.
Her bid to improve on her medal saw her settle for a bronze medal in the 10,000m during the 2019 World Championships in Doha, Qatar.
Tirop was among the athletes who represented Kenya in the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games in the 5,000m race, emerging fourth in a race won by Dutchwoman Sifan Hassan.
Hassan bagged the gold medal ahead of Kenya’s Hellen Obiri who bagged silver while Ethiopia’s Gudaf Tsegay won bronze medal.
During the AK National Olympic Trials at Moi International Sports Centre, Kasarani, Tirop booked herself a ticket to Tokyo after emerging third in the 5,000m race behind winner Lilian Kasait and second-placed Obiri.
Just last month, upon her return from the Olympic Games, Tirop broke the 10km road world record time clocking 30:01 during the “Adizero Road to Records” half marathon race at sportswear giants Adidas’ headquarters in Herzogenaurach, Germany, on September 12.
Agnes Tirop Bio
Born: October 23, 1995
Place: Chesunet, Uasin Gishu County
Specialty: Cross Country, 5,000m, 10,000m 10km
Bronze: 10,000m, London
Bronze: 10,000m, Doha
World Cross Country Championships
Gold: Senior race, Guiyang, China in 2015
Silver: Junior race, Bydgoszcz, Poland in 2013
Silver: Senior team, Guiyang, China in 2015
1,500m: 4:12.68 (2013)
2,000m: 5:48.65 (2013)
3,000m: 8:22.51 (2020)
5,000m: 4:20.68 (2019)
10,000m: 30:25.20 (2019)
10km: 30:01 (2021) — world record
Half marathon: 1:11:57 (2013)